Am I proud of our Olympic team? YES. Just watched the replay of the Ice Dance finals. Still gives me goosebumps. What a performance, what a pair of brilliant, smart and talented Canadians. Of course, living in the Okanagan, I’m also very happy for the Bobsleigh Teams, especially the Gold Medal pair, one of whom comes from Summerland. And the mogul team trained at Apex just before leaving for Korea. I could go on and on — but you have access to your own media — watch, read, be amazed!!
The Olympics are always special, even when we don’t score countless medals. But this year, in the midst of all the discord, the political chicanery, the movements and fads and strange populism,it’s nice to be able to sit back and just admire talent & beauty and not be condemned for it. I was reading a posting the other day by a bright young woman taking to task Kim Campbell — and I thought how ironic it was that a younger person had to teach an older person the difference between beauty and banality. During the Olympics, young people are teaching all of us — I just hope more are listening and watching.
As for me, my world has been less supreme. A friend lost his “ex” around Christmas time which is a sad moment, even for those who are divorced (and maintain civility towards each other, which this gentleman had). As a result his Christmas party had to be postponed. It was held last Friday night and was a delightful occasion because he had invited such a cross-section of personalities, persuasions and perspectives. And it was kind of nice to have a get-together in the middle of winter with no real purpose other than to meet, greet and enjoy the fellowship (oh, and the food was really good too).
Saturday evening it was the Okanagan Symphony presenting their “Viva L’Italia” concert. This was another real treat orchestrated by Maestro Rosemary Thompson — Music Director and Conductor. There was some Verdi (Nabucco Overture), Albinoni (Concerto for Oboe but arranged for Piccolo Trumpet), Vivaldi (Concerto for two Trumpets) and Respighi (Pini di Roma). There was also a piece by Allan(o) Gilliland(o) (Rosemary felt that adding the two syllables would make the Canadian composer of great jazz works (including the evening’s performance of Dreaming of the Masters III — A jazz concerto for trumpet and orchestra) fit the evening).
There was a fundamental reason for all this. The Special Guest for the evening was Jens Lindemann formerly the lead trumpet for the Canadian Brass. This guy is downright good. He has an irreverent stage presence (he was constantly reminding us that he studied at Juilliard!!) and an incredible command of any trumpet put in front of him — he played the piccolo trumpet, the flugelhorn, a coronet and a regular trumpet. He played classical and jazz compositions with equal aplomb. He simply was a real treat. During the duet, he played with Audrey Patterson who is the Principal Trumpet of the OSO — she was only 24 when she gained that position (the youngest ever to have such a Chair in North America) and she still is one of only a handful of women who are Principal Chairs of the Trumpet. She is very good too and they played off each other in a way that would have made Vivaldi himself very happy. I should also mention that during the Jazz number, which had energy to burn, Jens had a couple of students (from the youth orchestra — see below) come out and jam with him and the former Concertmaster (who has semi-retired to the third row). This was a lot of fun and the two students (one who started on violin, but was sent off by Jens, and then came back with a sax and blew the crowd away; the other was a trumpet player and she held her own in the on-stage playoff) made for some great counterpoint with Jens. He was very adept at bringing out the best in each of them and giving them significant moments being front and centre — a moment I’m sure that they will remember for the rest of their lives.
The final piece (Respighi) not only featured Jens, but also the entire OSO Youth Orchestra. It took a while to get the stage set to accommodate all the additional musicians but it was worth it. It was a wonderful rendition of the Pines of Rome which is a very spectacular piece. It was amazing how well Rosemary was able to blend the talents of the youth with the professionals in the regular orchestra. Of course, we shouldn’t have been surprised. A good number of the top youth also were brought out at the beginning of the concert to play alongside the orchestra during the Nabucco Overture.
It was a good night — and by the way, if you ever come to the Okanagan Symphony Orchestra performances in Penticton, you can now buy wine, etc. and bring it into the auditorium — delightful idea, listen to a great orchestra and sip on some fine BC wines or craft beers…
Sunday was a much busier day:
Started out with me in the pulpit at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian — the minister was in need of some serious vacation time and so I agreed to pinch hit for him (the last three Sundays in February). Since I had full control of the service, it required me to work a little harder on the preparation as well as the presentation. It was also the first Sunday in Lent and to make sure people were listening I took a much different tack — instead of asking people to put on sackcloth and ashes, I challenged them to be joyful and loving. In the end, I said that if they still needed to “give something up” that they choose to give up hate, anger and discord. The service seemed to be well-received. (I have one more Sunday to prepare for now — I am lucky because we have excellent pianists who are classically trained and so the music, while Presbyterian, moves with purpose and within the framework/intention of each composer — the baby grand actually leads the people in the musical aspects of the service, which is so nice as the choir is rather small while the minister is away.)
After church I attended the AGM of the South Okanagan Performing Arts Centre Society (SOPAC), I had been invited during the Friday night party so I had little time to prepare. Basically the group is trying to build a proper Performing Arts complex in Penticton (we already have an abundance of talent + a good many people who would support the arts but the venues currently available are pretty pathetic for a village, let alone a city of over 30,000 people — we do have a very modern hockey rink which attracts the really big shows and is home to a Junior A hockey team, but that same option is not available for the arts). They seem to be getting on the right track and there will be a symposium later this year to begin the process of bringing the entire idea into a much clearer focus which could then lead to an effective building campaign.
After this meeting I decided it was time to start winding down — so I went to St. Saviour’s Anglican church for late afternoon Jazz Vespers. It was a delightful moment. The priest shortened his homily and everything kept on point. The result was that it gave me some restorative time.
Monday was very cold but because of the sun it seemed like a good day to go skiing. Arrived at the hill to find the temperature at -20C. On the top of the mountain, the winds were fairly significant and the wind-chill pushed the thermometer even lower. After one run from the top, the consensus from most of the skiers was to head to the triple-chair which is closer to the ground, out of the wind, and in more sun. It was ok; but after seven runs, the Gunbarrel Saloon seemed far too inviting — a hot meal and some joyful conversation with others seeking respite from the cold was a super way to conclude the day.
There is good news in all this…this morning, after coming out of the gym at 6:15 it was very comforting to see the sky in the east lightening up noticeably. In fact that was also something relevant to skiing on Monday — many of the runs are now bathed in sunlight throughout most of the morning. Now if some global warming could come our way and reverse this latest arctic cold front, it would be nice to have some spring skiing!!
Otherwise, life is good and even though it is not forecast to be overly warm tomorrow, I believe that I will probably go back to the mountain…until then…